Need a Mic

My computer is HP Windows Vista Home Premium desktop (32-bit operating system), AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 5200+ 2.60 Ghz, 2 GB RAM, 363 GB Hard Drive, and a Realtek High Definition Audio onboard sound card.

Now I need a microphone that is good at recording whispers (as I plan on whispering songs into the mic–which are songs that I believe that I, myself, created in my own head). Now I have no knowledge of mics whatsoever, so please tell me the EXACT name of the mic that I should buy (and also details about the mic as well). So what would be a good microphone to buy–starting from the cheapest on up?

I think I’d probably start with a LogiTech USB headset. Stereo ear muffs and boom microphone. If you place the microphone just right, you can get good pickup without breath popping and other proximity effects. They can be very good with room noise. They tend to be bright and live, but you can tame that in post production.

http://www.google.com/#hl=en&source=hp&q=logitech+USB+headset&aq=f&aqi=g10&oq=&fp=8ec9ea851cee2c5b

If you lose interest, you can use it with your Skype account. All for about $20 - $30 USD.

Koz

It’s practically guaranteed you’re going to go off in another creative direction and spending any more than that on a first microphone will be a waste.

“OK, now I need a microphone for my banjo…”

“I’m singing harmony with three other people…”

“How do I plug my guitar into my computer?”

Koz

Now I actually have never sung or played any instrument in my entire life (I can use FL Studio for playing the instruments). As for these portions of songs I created in my head consciously (which is singing alone, no instruments yet), I’m wondering If my mind is actually playing songs I’ve heard of from a long time ago. I’m eager to know whether it’s a song I created, or something played from a while back. When creating these songs, I was able to create portions in a matter of minutes. Furthermore, the words that are sung in this song are in the form of a woman’s voice (NOTE: I’m a guy). So how can my mind spontaneously create singing in the form of a woman’s voice I never heard of (also, the singing has a DEFINITE pattern and is sort of complex–that of an actual professional song).

So I am going to try to the very best of my ability, to whisper how these songs are sung in my mind (since I have no experience whatsoever when singing in my own voice), and I am going to ask people online whether these are songs I created–or if it’s something that already exists.

If you are whispering, then the fan / drive noise from your computer will be significant.
Headset microphones are generally optimised for speech rather than singing, but you can get remarkably good (clear) vocal recordings from some USB headset microphones at a remarkably low price. (Some headset microphones are remarkably bad, so go on recommendation when selecting the model). The advantage of headset microphone is that they are designed for use very close to the mouth (typically being placed at or near the corner of the mouth so as to avoid being blown on). Using a microphone very close to the mouth means that it will pick up relatively more of your voice and less environmental noise. The disadvantages of USB headset microphones are that you cannot easily adjust the proximity of the microphone to the mouth (you cannot back off from the microphone if you want to go a lot louder on a word or phrase), these typically have weak bass response (this is a feature to improve speech clarity), they have fairly low sensitivity (designed for normal speech volume) so they may be a bit noisy if you are whispering quietly. As with all USB microphones, they will have relatively short leads which makes it difficult to get away from the computer which may be a significant source of noise. I have little experience of these microphones so shall decline making any recommendations.

Another option (though significantly more expensive) is to use a “large diaphragm condenser” microphone. These type of microphones are (usually) designed for high sensitivity and can produce excellent sound quality for vocals. The disadvantage is that they need to be powered - usually by an external power supply or “phantom” power so they cannot be connected directly to the computer but require an external microphone pre-amp. Having said that, most standard computer microphone inputs are very low quality anyway.

USB microphones will generally give better sound quality than plugging a “conventional” microphone into a standard computer microphone input as they completely bypass the internal sound card. They also have the problem of short leads. The other major disadvantage is that with Audacity you can only record from one device, so if you later want to add a second microphone you will not be able to just plug a second USB microphone in.

These days there is a good selection of inexpensive USB large diaphragm microphones in the range of £50 to £250 GBP. These include models from Samson, Thomann, Behringer, sE Electronics, and others.

Non-USB microphones provide a more versatile option as you can add additional microphones at a later date, but you will need to use either an external microphone pre-amp or a mixing desk, and this will push the price up considerably.

The top of the range would be something like a neumann m149 (around £3500 + pre-amp).

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To build on that, you can never get away from your noisy computer. USB microphones are aggressively intended for very small, limited production in tiny rooms, and they die a quick death the first time somebody says, “How do I plug a second mircophone in?”

There is the spectre of “Aggregate Microphones” where you can get more than one, but I have no experience with that yet.

We like the Labtec headsets. We hace a number of them in the building and they seem to have good microphone sensitivity. We use them for videoconferencing where if there is one person in one location, it is strongly recommended that they be on headsets.

http://www.labtec.com/index.cfm/gear/listing/EUR/EN,crid=8,crid2=9

I have no experience with the 442.

Koz

I strongly suspect that the quality of that microphone is not very good.
Please do not recommend products that you do not use or do not have good reason to recommend otherwise you will be misleading people.

No problem Luna. How about starting a new post in this section of the forum and say what equipment you use (what make/model sound card, microphone, and so on) and if what you find good and bad about it? A little “review” of your equipment. We particularly find it useful to hear what equipment use that works well with Audacity.

In fact, there is a topic specifically about sound cards, you could write a review about your sound card there. People are always asking which sound cards work well with Audacity. Sound Card Reviews